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Ariz. bill drops ‘annoying’ online as an offense

A provision in an Arizona bill that riled Twitter and Facebook users for making it criminal to annoy or offend someone online has been dropped.

Legislators this week amended a proposal updating state harassment and stalking laws to include smartphones and cyber communication.

Free speech advocates and social media users say the statute as written could lead to people being criminally charged for comments permitted by the Constitution.

The bill’s focus is now on behavior intended to intimidate or threaten. It also states the law would not apply to constitutionally protected speech. Other changes include specifications that a threat be directed at a specific individuals or group.

Rep. Ted Vogt, the bill’s sponsor, previously said he would revise the plan after hearing from concerned supporters.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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